During the Innodays Bodensee, we hosted an exciting panel about innovation spaces featuring Markus Kleinfercher from the Infineon Hub at the TU Vienna, David Zakoth from the Lichtwerkstatt Jena, and Claudio Vit from Prisma CAMPUS V in Dornbirn. Markus, David, and Claudio discussed three very different types of innovation spaces. In this post, we compare the three types of innovation spaces along five design dimensions.
Five design dimensions for the set up of innovation spaces
The panel agreed that the prerequisite for a successful innovation space is to enable its users to freely pursue their projects and ideas. However, innovation spaces may be very diverse. To define the unique characteristics of diverse spaces, we suggest using five design dimensions: financing, objective, intellectual property, users, infrastructure.
Financers are the initiators of the project and generally contribute to its operations. They can be corporate, private, or public entities.
Key questions: Who is paying for the set up of the space? How to finance the operations of the space?
The objective defines the ultimate aim of the space, which could be commercial or explorative. Some innovation spaces further focus on specific themes, such as social impact or specific technologies.
Key questions: What do you want to achieve with the space? What does success look like?
Intellectual property refers to the ownership of the projects developed in the space. This is closely related to the degree of openness that the space is willing to provide to external users.
Key questions: How is the intellectual property managed? How “open” should the space be?
Users are the primary target for innovation spaces’ success. They can be students, employees, or startups who work in the space, but also mentors, company representatives, and occasional visitors.
Key questions: Who are the users? What tasks do they perform?
Infrastructure refers to the furniture, machinery, digital solutions, and look and feel of the space. It enables work activities and gives the space a unique identity.
Key questions: What do the users need? What does the space look like?
Best practices in the setup of innovation spaces
It is paramount to coherently design innovation spaces along the five dimensions in order to set them up for success. The following table provides an overview of the three innovation spaces our panelists run.
Infineon Hub Vienna
The Infineon Hub at Vienna University of Technology (Austria) has been an interface between the university and the company since 2018. It serves as a workspace, event location, networking area, and showroom. The space invites start-ups, students, researchers, technology experts, and companies to grow together and to realize their ideas profitably. As a purely company-financed project, Infineon tries to support ideas that overlap with its own diverse portfolio of interests. Ideally, ideas build upon the companies hardware but innovative initiatives that go beyond the company’s strategic goals are welcomed as well. There are clear guidelines for the management of intellectual property during the innovation processes. When testing new technologies, participants who rely on technology by Infineon have to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in order to legally safeguard the company and provide a secure environment for partners. With Infineon, Markus Kleinfercher wants to strengthen the collaboration with the university, involve more talent, and further strengthen the bond with the maker and startup community to generate innovative solutions.
Lichtwerkstatt — Open Photonics Makerspace Jena
The Lichtwerkstatt at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena (Germany) was set up in 2017. Its aim is to strengthen the connection between students and practitioners and to create a space in which industry, science, and makers can meet. The space is publicly funded and strives to open up new innovation paths in the high-tech area of optics and photonics. Users experiment with new ideas in a playful way and make them accessible to a broader audience through an open-source approach. At the Lichtwerkstatt, how to deal with intellectual property rights is evaluated on a case by case basis. For example, during hackathons in the space, the rights belong to the participant teams. However, companies may approach the teams to further develop their idea and require them to sign an NDA. David Zakoth’s wish for Lichtwerkstatt’s future is to install a maker-space at every university in order to grow the space into a network. Inspired by the idea of the Fablab, his vision is to provide the same quality standards at every location and to foster a global exchange around grand challenges.
Campus V Dornbirn
In 2017, Prisma, a real estate company, converted a series of old postal garages in Dornbirn (Austria) into a space that creates opportunities for innovation. Various startups, partners, and initiatives found a home in what became known as Campus V. Campus V is publicly and privately funded and it aims to serve as an anchor for topics such as digital innovation in the local ecosystem. Startups and professionals in the space fully own their projects and they are allowed to use the infrastructure paying a membership fee or joining the incubator program. The innovation space aims to offer an atmosphere conducive to creative expression and collaborative exchange through the choice of furniture, light, and colors and through the provision of retreat areas and a cafe. At the same time, it strives to accommodate the diverse workspace needs of its startup users by providing meeting rooms, event space, and a maker space. Claudio Vit considers it fundamental that Campus V attracts a diverse crowd and it allows for guests to experience the freedom that comes from curiosity.
The future of innovation spaces
To anticipate the future of innovation spaces, you need to look at the present. Examples like the Infineon Hub, Lichtwerkstatt Jena, and CAMPUS V help us to learn more about what should be considered before setting up an innovation space, and how to create the conditions for success.
Thanks to Markus, David, and Claudio for a great panel!
About the InnoDays
The InnoDays bring companies and talent together to prototype ideas with a positive impact in 48 hours. We guide our participants’ innovation journey with our training program before and after the event with inspiring input and helpful methods. Find out more about InnoDays on our website.